Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker
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St. Croix County Sheriff's Office leaders were satisfied they had found the right body cameras for their officers. They just needed the right apparatus to hold them in place. The new cameras offer deputies different options — they're military-grade cellphones capable of audio recording and GPS tracking — but while testing the devices, sheriff's officials learned there was a drawback. There wasn't anything holding them in place.
The St. Croix County Sheriff's Office will be drawing from other agencies' experiences while minding potential legislative changes as it prepares to launch its body camera program later this year. The cameras — beefed-up smartphones, actually — will be issued to the department's patrol deputies, jail staff and investigators later this summer, St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson said. The $230,000 program comes as state lawmakers revisit body-camera legislation that will likely be resurrected after crumbling in 2017.
A Minneapolis man allegedly had an older pickup truck he'd stolen from Ohio, but a girl with him said they went to Hudson where "it's easier to steal cars from there." Authorities said in a criminal complaint that the man did just that, and drove a 2-year-old SUV out of a Hudson driveway that was loaded with belongings he'd snatched from other parked cars.
Two people from Minnesota were injured Sunday in a Pierce County crash that authorities said appeared to involve alcohol. Pierce County sheriff's deputies were alerted to the crash at 5:50 a.m. June 17 on Highway 35 in Diamond Bluff near County Road O. According to deputies, the vehicle, a 2003 Ford Expedition driven by 26-year-old Elk River resident Kyiyoo Vinson, crashed and overturned several times in a ditch.
HUDSON — The trial for a New Richmond teenager accused of telling others he planned “to shoot kids” was set last week in a hearing where the judge announced there was probable cause to move the case forward. The defendant, Nicholas H. Cherrier, also pleaded not guilty at the Friday, June 1, hearing to felony terroristic threats and disorderly conduct. A three-day trial is set to begin July 31.
A Somerset man was killed and a Houlton man was injured Wednesday morning in a two-vehicle crash outside Hudson. The St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office said 35-year-old Pedro Luis Vera Cornier was pronounced dead at the scene. Sheriff’s deputies were called at 7:03 a.m. to county roads E and I in the town of St. Joseph for a two-vehicle crash. It was determined Vera Cornier was driving a 2004 Chevy Aveo that was found with severe driver’s-side damage.
HUDSON — A Roberts man implicated in a church embezzlement scheme with his wife was convicted Monday of three criminal charges but avoided prison. Unlike his wife — a former St. Paul school administrator who was sentenced last year to two years in prison — Michael LaVenture will avoid time behind bars after pleading no contest to three misdemeanor theft counts. "I'm sorry for what happened between my wife and the church," a choked-up LaVenture said during his June 11 sentencing hearing.
A River Falls lawyer will challenge for an Assembly seat while a former Capitol police officer will seek to unseat the St. Croix County sheriff. Filings for the November election closed Friday, June 1, in Wisconsin, leaving a three-way Democratic primary for the Senate District 31 seat. Taylor resident and Wisconsin Farm Bureau local affairs director Steve Boe and Trempealeau County Supervisor Jonathan Schultz will compete with former Assembly member Jeff Smith, of Eau Claire, for the 31st Senate District seat.
HUDSON — The New Richmond man accused of shooting his son pleaded not guilty last week to first-degree intentional homicide in St. Croix County Circuit Court. Kayle Fleischauer, appearing for the first time in court wearing street clothes after being released on bond the previous week, also pleaded not guilty to a second count — possession of a firearm by a convicted out-of-state felon.
A Hastings man blamed his gambling addiction on an embezzlement scheme that netted him $70,000 at a Prescott-area golf course, but a plea agreement struck Tuesday will allow him to repay that money while addressing his problems. Robert P. Magnuson pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft May 29 in Pierce County Circuit Court, a charge that will be dismissed if the 58-year-old abides the terms of an agreement.